FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Public + Media Relations Manager
MCC, iFixOmaha device recycling and refurbishment program puts donated laptops, tablets and smartphones into hands of people who need them for free
OMAHA (August 23, 2023)
— A new program at Metropolitan Community College will provide the public with free, refurbished internet-enabled devices like laptops, tablets and smartphones on the Fort Omaha Campus. Through DeviceConnect Omaha, developed in partnership with MCC Digital Express and iFixOmaha to increase digital equity in the community, individuals can submit a request for a device, and when available, receive donated, refurbished equipment for free.
When consumers upgrade their digital devices, many leave the device they are replacing sitting idle in their homes. Through DeviceConnect Omaha, devices no longer in use can be donated at MCC Digital Express, where certified professionals with iFixOmaha will wipe the data, refurbish the technology, divert it from the landfill and put it in the hands of someone in need in the community.
“DeviceConnect Omaha is a partnership that gives back to people in our community who need these devices, and it also provides a safe way to recycle old devices with certified professionals,” said Beverly Lahlum Taylor, Ed.D., MCC director for Digital Express.
According to estimates from the 2021 American Community Survey, nearly 1 in every 10 Nebraskans lacks internet access, and in pockets of Omaha, like North and South Omaha, more than 14% of households lack connectivity. Additionally, in three areas in which MCC has campuses – North Omaha, South Omaha and Dodge County — more than 15% of the population has a smartphone only for all of their computing needs.
“Imagine trying to do all the things daily life requires without a device or only a smartphone — online learning, remote work, shopping, applying for jobs or filling out forms to access critical benefits like unemployment or SNAP. The pandemic accelerated changes to how we navigate our lives online, and it had an especially great impact on people in underserved communities,” Lahlum Taylor said.
Jason DeWater, founder of iFixOmaha, which also offers an at-cost device repair service to the community at Digital Express’ Reboot Central service desk, said expanding the partnership with MCC to offer a device donation, refurbishment and recycling program is something he is passionate about. DeWater said he knows there is a great need for it and views technology as an “equalizer.” During the start of the pandemic, he provided the service for free at iFixOmaha locations and saw strong community response.
“People still need these devices. We know from doing this in the past that if our community knows there is a need, people will line up to donate their laptops and tablets,” DeWater said.
DeWater said in addition to partnering with MCC to offer the first mobile device repair academy in the nation in postsecondary education, a goal was to have a presence on the Fort Omaha Campus to reach new customers. Nearly 9 out of every 10 customers that come to the Digital Express location (Building 10) have never been served by iFixOmaha in the past.
“Typically, when we open a new location, there’s a lot more overlap between customers from our existing locations, so it’s been great to see more and more people in the community visit us here at MCC. It’s a really unique partnership, and it makes me so proud and happy to do anything we can to help support the vision for Digital Express and get these devices to as many people in the community as possible,” DeWater said.
To request a device, visit donate.ifixomaha.com and fill out the form to submit a request for a laptop, tablet or smartphone; iFixOmaha will work to find a donated device that meets the needs of the end user. A form is also available to register to donate device(s), which provides instructions on the intake process.
When receiving donated devices, tech professionals with iFixOmaha will safely wipe all data from donated devices. The company has a AAA certification from the National Association of Information Destruction, a process that ensures data destruction companies are in compliance with industry standards and government regulations around information security.
Businesses are eligible to donate devices. Devices no longer supported with software updates are also accepted for donation. Any usable parts will be harvested, and unusable parts will be recycled. Lahlum Taylor said devices will be screened for quality before being issued.
“These are devices I would be proud to have myself. If we receive a device that we don’t think is good enough to go out, we’re not going to put it out — we’re going to recycle it,” Lahlum Taylor said. “Go through your junk drawers and storage cabinets. There might be something in there you don’t need or use that can help someone else out and free up some space.”
For donations of five devices or more, pick-up services may be provided. Devices are provided to recipients in the order in which requests are submitted. For more information, visit donate.ifixomaha.com.
About Metropolitan Community College
Metropolitan Community College, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, is a comprehensive, public community college that offers affordable, quality education to all residents of Dodge, Douglas, Sarpy and Washington counties. Founded in 1974, MCC has the largest enrollment out of six community colleges in Nebraska and is the second largest postsecondary institution in the state. MCC serves more than 40,000 unique credit and noncredit students.